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Syriza Wins Greek Elections

travel-suitcase

The anti-“austerity” party Syriza has won a commanding victory in Greece’s parliamentary elections: Greece’s far-left Syriza party, which seeks to renegotiate Greece’s loan deals with Europe’s central authorities, won the largest share of seats in the Hellenic Parliament in historic elections Sunday, capturing 35.5 percent to 39.5 percent share according to exit polling. Syriza’s victory […]

State Of The Union Ratings Hit 15 Year Low

2014 State Of The Union

Last Tuesday’s State of the Union Address saw the lowest viewership numbers of any of those that President Obama has delivered and the lowest in fifteen years: Television viewership for President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night fell to a 15-year low, according to numbers from Nielsen. The 1-hour, 15-minute speech drew an average […]

I will Believe it When I see it

us-politics

Via WaPo:  Jeb Bush previews 2016 run, promising ‘adult conversations’ on big issues. I would adore such a conversation.  Alas, my experience with US campaigns makes we skeptical.  (And that observation is not aimed at Bush, but is a general observation).

Ebola Infection Rate In West Africa Dropping

Ebola Virus

The World Health Organization reports that the Ebola infection rate in West Africa appears to be dropping: GENEVA — The number of people falling victim to the Ebola virus in West Africa has dropped to the lowest level in months, the World Health Organization said on Friday, but dwindling funds and a looming rainy season […]

Another Use for Drones

us-politics

Via the BBC:  Drone carrying drugs crashes near US-Mexico border A drone carrying more than six pounds (2.7kg) of methamphetamine has crashed near Mexico’s border with the US. Mexican police in Tijuana say they were alerted to an unidentified object in a car park of a shopping centre. “The drone had packages taped to it […]

Ernie Banks, MLB Hall Of Famer And “Mr. Cub,” Dies At 83

Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks, who spent all of his 19 Major League seasons with the Chicago Cubs and became a joyous Ambassador for baseball itself in retirement, has died at the age of 83: Ernie Banks, the greatest power-hitting shortstop of the 20th century and an unconquerable optimist whose sunny disposition never dimmed in 19 seasons with […]

Pope: Don’t Breed Like Rabbits. Or Use Birth Control.

group of bunnies

Pope Francis continues his world tour and has issued a paradox from his private jet.

The Global 1%

travel-suitcase

Via the BBC:  Richest 1% to own more than rest of world, Oxfam says The wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world’s population, according to a study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam. The charity’s research shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% […]

John Kerry Outsources American Foreign Policy To James Taylor

John Kerry JJames Taylor

With some still criticizing the Administration for not sending a higher-ranking officials to Sunday’s unity rally in Paris, Secretary of State John Kerry decided it might be a good idea to stop by Paris on the way home from India. And, to show our French friends that America stands beside them in the fight against […]

Pope Francis: One Cannot Make Fun of Faith

church-state-street-signs

Pope Francis has earned a reputation as a liberal in comparison to recent predecessors but he’s no liberal.

Paul Ryan Not Running For President

ryan

Although his name has frequently been mentioned as a candidate for President in 2016, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is making clear he has no intention of running: Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who was his party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, announced Monday that he will not run for president in 2016. Ryan, the new […]

Next Charlie Hebdo Cover Has Muhammad Saying ‘Je suis Charlie’

charlie-hebdo-je-suis-charlie-post-massacre-cover

Their editor and nine colleagues dead, their offices destroyed, the newspaper is not missing a beat.

Chris Christie Lampooned as Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader

chris-christie-cowboys-texass-trentonian

The enmity against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for daring to root for the rival Dallas Cowboys has reached new lows, with the state’s newspapers lampooning him as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.  The Trentonian put this on its Friday cover: This follows Star-Ledger cartoonist Drew Sheneman‘s “Christie Does Dallas” parody earlier in the week:   Sheneman’s logic is […]

German Newspaper Firebombed After Republishing Charlie Hebdo Images

military-soldier-sunset

The terrorism wave that began with the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices has not ended with the killing of the perpetrators. A follow-on attack has occurred in Germany and there are reports of “sleeper cells” being activated in France.

Cuban Activists Released; US-Cuban Talks Set

travel-suitcase

Via the BBC:  Cuba releases dozens of opposition activists The Cuban authorities have released at least 36 opposition activists since Wednesday, according to dissident organisations. They are believed to be from a list of 53 activists the United States requested to be freed as part of efforts to mend links. More info at the link. […]

Wow

movie-popcorn-filmstrip

Via the BBC:  Rob Konrad: Ex-Miami Dolphin falls off boat, swims nine miles Konrad, 38, swam the equivalent of 290 lengths of an Olympic-size swimming pool after his 36-foot boat, which was on auto pilot, drifted away from him off the South Florida coast. It took him roughly 12 hours to swim to shore.

Barbara Boxer Retiring At End of Term

us-politics

Senator Barbara Boxer has announced she will not run again in 2016. AP (“California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer to Retire“): California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, a tenacious liberal whose election to the Senate in 1992 heralded a new era for women at the upper reaches of political power, announced Thursday she will not seek re-election […]

Saxby Chambliss Transforms From Senator To Lobbyist In Less Than A Week

money-scrooge-mcduck-dive-money

It took less than a week for former Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss to land a new job: Congratulations to former Sen. Saxby Chambliss on his new job at K Street lobbying firm DLA Piper. The firm announced today that Chambliss is joining as a partner, a couple of days after he left the “world’s greatest […]

FEC Sues Christine O’Donnell Over Campaign Irregularities

O'Donnell

Christine O’Donnell has largely been out of the news since losing the 2010 Delaware Senate race to Senator Chris Coons, but the Federal Election Commission didn’t forget about her: Once upon a time there was a candidate for U.S. Senate who told voters she wasn’t a witch. But her story doesn’t end there. Christine O’Donnell, […]

Boehner Strips Foes of Plum Posts

John-Boehner-Speaker-of-House-of-Representatives

You come at the king, you best not miss.

Jeb Bush Takes Another Big Step Toward Running For President

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush’s putative “exploration” of a Presidential run is looking more and more like an actual Presidential campaign: Jeb Bush’s fundraising operation is about to get serious. Allies of the former Florida governor are planning to roll out both a leadership PAC and a super PAC in the coming days in an effort to lock […]

Chart of the Day: Gas Prices

money-bankruptcy

Via the WSJ:

Venezuela Officially in Recession

travel-suitcase

Via the BBC:  Venezuela recession confirmed as Maduro attacks US ‘oil war’ The Venezuelan economy is now officially in recession after the central bank released figures showing that it has been shrinking all year. The bank said the economy had declined by 2.3% in the third quarter of 2014. It also revealed for the first […]

Rousseff Starts Second Term

travel-suitcase

Via the BBC:  Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff sworn in for a second term Representatives from more than 130 countries attended the swearing-in ceremony, which also saw Vice-President Michel Temer take his oath. The presidents of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro; Uruguay, Jose Mujica; Bolivia, Evo Morales, and Chile, Michelle Bachelet were among the leaders present. US Vice President […]

Looking to the New Congress

us-politics

NPR has a short piece on the coming Congress that is worth a read:  Some Not-So-Conventional Wisdom About The Next Congress. The piece counters what it perceives as the conventional wisdom on the coming Republican control of both chambers: 1. Republicans are going to have to show they can govern. [...] 2. House Democrats will […]

Man Shot by Police at Altercation at Animal Shelter

money-bankruptcy

Via AL.com:  Dothan police officer shoots, injures sovereign citizen during altercation outside animal shelter Dothan police officer shot and injured a man during an altercation outside the Dothan City Animal Shelter Tuesday afternoon. The shooting occurred after an officer responded to a disorderly conduct complaint at the animal shelter located on Jerry Drive at around 12:30 […]

Meanwhile, on Another Branch of the Family Bush

us-politics

Via USAT:  The dynasty lives on: George P. Bush takes oath of office in Texas George P. Bush — grandson and nephew of presidents and eldest son of a likely 2016 presidential contender —  took his oath of office Friday. As commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, Bush will oversee an agency that manages […]

365 in the Books (on to the Next 365)

money-bankruptcy

As I have noted from time to time, photography is a hobby of mine. For the last several years (since 2009) I have engaged in Project 365 (i.e., taking a picture every day for a year). I have managed to make 365 in 2010 and now for 2014. Happy New Year! On to 2015.

Obama Approval Improves

us-politics

Gallup’s most recent approval numbers put the president’s approval and disapproval at 48% (his best for both in over a year). Not surprisingly, other polling shows a clear positive trend on consumer confidence:

Congressman Michael Grimm To Resign

Capitol Daytime

A week after pleading guilty, and just shy of two months of being re-elected despite facing a 20 count indictment, Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm will be resigning Congress: WASHINGTON — Michael G. Grimm, the Republican Party’s lone congressional representative in New York City, announced late Monday night that he would resign effective Jan. 5, […]

If you Have a Few Brain Cells to Spare, Watch This

money-bankruptcy

I understand that the main job of cable news anchors/hosts is to fill time between commercials, but surely they could do better than this (wherein we get speculation about the metric system and the lack of “cowboys attitudes” in non-US pilots): And, of course, the best part is the utter lack of comparative framework insofar […]

Public Opinion on Cuba

travel-suitcase

Via WaPo‘s The Fix: Sixty-eight percent support ending the trade embargo with Cuba — up 11 points from 2009 — and 74 percent support ending travel restrictions to Cuba — a jump of 19 points from five years ago. The main issue over time: More info at the link.

Chart of the Day

us-politics

Via Wonkblog: If anything the chart is amusing because the op/ed it skewers so clearly deserves the skewering. The chart is also amusing because it really underscores the ridiculous nature of the charges the Obama administration has a) socialist in any serious sense of the term or b) been an economic disaster. I am not […]

You Can Now Watch The Interview Online Too

Sony Pictures Cancels Releaase Of "The Interview" After Hacker Threats

In addition to the limited theatrical release announced yesterday, Sony is now making The Interview available online through a number of digital distributors for less than you’d pay at the movie theater: LOS ANGELES — Three digital distributors joined an expanding effort to save “The Interview,” as Sony Pictures Entertainment disclosed the first deals to show the […]

Dangerous Times: Perception and Reality

travel-suitcase

Steven Pinker ad Andrew Mack remind us over at Slate that:  The World Is Not Falling Apart News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a reporter saying to the camera, “Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out”—or a city that has not […]

It’s Official: Florida Passes New York To Become Third Most Populous State

Florida

After several years of anticipating that it would happen, the Census Bureau has officially confirmed that Florida has surpassed New York to become the third most populous state in the nation: After years of staving off population challenges from the Sunshine State, New York has finally ceded its position as the nation’s third most populous […]

Rep. Michael Grimm Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion

Capitol Dome

Some eight months after being indicted, Michael Grimm, the only Republican representing a Congressional District inside New York City, has plead guilty to a single count of tax evasion, raising questions about how he can continue in office: A former Marine and agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who first ran for office as […]

Joe Cocker Dies At 70

Joe Cocker Woodstock

Joe Cocker, whose gravely voice became iconic after covering The Beatles at Woodstock some 45 years ago, has died at the age of 70: Joe Cocker, the gravelly British singer who became one of pop’s most recognizable interpreters in the late 1960s and ’70s with passionate, idiosyncratic takes on songs like the Beatles’ “With a […]

US Economic Activity Map

us-economic-activity-four-quarters

This graphic from February is making the rounds this morning: It was the Pew Research Center‘s Chart of the Week (“How metro areas drive the U.S. economy“) eight months ago. Their explanation: It probably should come as no surprise that most U.S. economic activity is concentrated in metropolitan areas. What may be surprising, and what […]

North Korean Internet Connections Collapse

North Korea

What does exist of North Korea’s connection to the Internet has largely collapsed in what may be an attack from outside sources: SAN FRANCISCO — North Korea’s already tenuous links to the Internet went completely dark on Monday after days of instability, in what Internet monitors described as one of the worst North Korean network […]

US Ground Troops Fighting ISIL

military-soldier-sunset

The ground troops that United States has not sent into Iraq to fight ISIL are reportedly in Iraq fighting ISIL.

Kevin Drum’s Lympho-Somethings Way Down

money-bankruptcy

Great news on the Kevin Drum front: I’m 8 weeks through my 16-week regimen of chemotherapy, and last week my doctor ordered up sort of a halftime report on how I’m doing. This is an extended set of lab tests, and today she called to tell me the results. Apparently they came out great. Unfortunately, […]

Russia Invades Ukraine, Hookers Raise Prices

condoms-russia-crisis

Talk about your second- and third-order effects.

Comparative Human Rights Abuses

travel-suitcase

Via the Monkey Cage (Putting Cuban human rights violations in some context), Erik Voeten notes In a recent article (ungated) in the American Political Science Review, Penn State political scientist Christopher J. Fariss develops a smart measurement model that captures the common component among different measures of physical integrity rights. Moreover, this model generates measures […]

Drezner on Cuba

travel-suitcase

If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend Dan Drezner’s piece on Cuba from yesterday:  Every big question you have about the U.S. opening to Cuba, answered

Ok, This is Silly: No “Team America”

travel-suitcase

Via TPM Livewire:  Paramount Blocks 2004 Movie ‘Team America’ From Being Shown In Theaters

US-Cuban Relations and Venezuela

travel-suitcase

Via Bloomberg:  Obama Makes Maduro’s ‘Insolent Yankees’ a Tougher Sell “Maduro’s anti-US rhetoric is being undercut by the Cuban government,” said Gregory Weeks, head of Latin American studies at the University of North Carolina. “One of the biggest repercussions is that Maduro’s foreign policy is based on exclusion of the U.S. and now its biggest […]

GOP Wins Last Outstanding House Seat, Has Largest Majority Since 1928 Elections

us-politics

The final undecided House election of 2014 was decided yesterday in Arizona, and it gives the GOP another pickup and its biggest House majority in eighty-six years: Republicans clinched their 247th U.S. House seat on Wednesday when GOP challenger Martha McSally officially unseated Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), bringing to an end the final unresolved congressional […]

Sony, “The Interview,” and Running Government Like a Business.

military-soldier-sunset

It strike me that the situation with Sony and The Interview is a good example of why you can’t run government like a business. While the US government would have to make calculations about warding off future attacks, national reputations, etc. in the face of terrorist threats, all Sony (And AMC, etc.) had to do […]

Texas Plumber’s Used Truck Ends Up In Syria Being Driven By Islamist Fighters

Texas Syria

A truck that used to belong to a small Texas plumbing company has been spotted in Syria in the hands of anti-Assad Islamist: TEXAS CITY — A local plumber is being flooded with phone calls — and some threats — after a picture of one of his old company vehicles being used by Islamist militants […]

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